June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Design in Engineering Education
13.309.1 - 13.309.16
Comparing the Design Problem Solving Processes of Product Design and Engineering Student Teams in the US and UK
Abstract The delivery of sustainable and innovative products and services in global marketplaces demands changes in the way engineers are educated. Identification of essential elements of global engineering education and development of global competencies in engineering design are key prerequisites to the development and delivery of emerging global engineering curricula. The goal of the research reported in this paper was to characterize how diverse design teams operate differently and what common methods they use despite the differences in their backgrounds. We analyzed the design problem-solving strategies and processes used by four student teams. Two of these teams consisted of senior product design students in the UK and two of them included freshman engineering students in the U.S. We used a cross case study analysis to compare senior product design and freshman engineering teams as well as mixed-gender and all-male teams. We asked all student teams to solve an engineering design problem on a fictitious street crossing issue occurring on their college campus. We video-recorded their discussions and collected the documents they produced during the protocol. A key characteristic of the product design teams was their use of drawings at every stage of the design process; in contrast the freshman engineering teams carried out more detailed information gathering activities. These differences between senior product and freshman engineering teams reflected the emphasis areas in their curriculum. All four teams frequently iterated between the different stages of the design process and project planning was a neglected area for all teams. Further research is needed to increase the number of team studies to explore the role of design drawings in supporting team communication, team information gathering and use processes, and the role of team diversity in supporting innovative design solutions.
The study of design thinking attempts to discover three things: the processes designers follow in developing a design solution, comparison of designers with various levels of experiences, and how the quality of the design solutions relates to the problem solving processes. Given that design is a human activity involving both creativity and innovation, quantifying how designers think offers real challenges. In addition, teamwork, which has a considerable importance in engineering and product design, expands the complexities of design problem solving. In our study, we used mixed methods approach to explore design problem solving processes of engineering and product design students with an attempt to understand how students approach to and solve design problems.
Our sample includes student teams with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds, different geographical locations, and diverse team compositions. We predict that students with diverse backgrounds and educational experiences would use different approaches to solve their design problem and would produce diverse solutions. We wanted to document these differences; however, we also wanted to explore the similarities among these teams, despite these variances. We believe that our findings would guide future research and be a significant contribution to the
Purzer, S., & McKay, A., & Henderson, M., & Roberts, C., & de Pennington, A. (2008, June), Comparing The Design Problem Solving Processes Of Product Design And Engineering Student Teams In The Us And Uk Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4003
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